Loose Lips Sink Ships
June 8, 2012 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Calls are growing for a special counsel to investigate leaks of classified information by the Obama administration. Concerns have been raised over leaks involving classified information on cyberwarfare, infiltration of an Al Qaeda cell in Yemen, and drone warfare procedures.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week. “Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible,”

Stamping out leaks of sensitive information has become a top priority for the United States government in the wake of high profile leaks such as the identity of a covert CIA employee during the Bush administration and a massive leak of information to Wikileaks.

“We’ve seen the current president bringing five prosecutions so far… against people for whistleblowing, for leaks of classified information,” said Daniel Ellsberg, famous for his 1971 leak of the “Pentagon Papers,” which helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam War.

“All previous presidents put together brought three prosecutions.”
posted by furiousxgeorge (115 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The release of the identity of Valerie Plame was, in all likelihood, directly sanctioned by the Vice President, so I'm not sure it qualifies as a "leak".
posted by demiurge at 8:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


CHANGE.

HOPE.

FORWARD.


DELETE.

OBAMA 2012!
posted by Fizz at 8:58 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nice use of the passive tense. Who is calling for this, and why?
posted by Outlawyr at 9:01 AM on June 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
change.gov. The Office of the President-Elect.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:01 AM on June 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


John Robb has been discussing the dangers of self-replicating weapons technology.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 9:03 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


“Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible,”

Notice he doesn't say the suggestion is false.
posted by unSane at 9:04 AM on June 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


Having this many leaks of this seriousness in an election year is not likely a coincidence.

I dislike a great deal of our so-called national security (as it does not in fact make us one white more secure and destroys core liberties), including FISA, the Patriot Act, and the very existence of Homeland Security and TSA. But having said that, the current batch of leaks seems malicious, not an effort to advance civil liberties. And the fallout is likely to lead to even more regressive measures.
posted by bearwife at 9:04 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Probing Obama’s secrecy games: "Over the past several months, including just last week, I’ve [Glenn Greenwald] written numerous times about the two glaring contradictions that drive the Obama administration’s manipulative game-playing with its secrecy powers: (1) at the very same time that they wage an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, they themselves continuously leak national security secrets exclusively designed to glorify Obama purely for political gain; and (2) at the very same time they insist to federal courts that these programs are too secret even to confirm or deny their existence (thereby shielding them from judicial review or basic disclosure), they run around publicly boasting about their actions."
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:05 AM on June 8, 2012


Some say that Obama is from Kenya.
Some are calling for the Justice Department to investigate torture and war crimes by the Bush Administration.
Some say that Obama is a muslim, Manchurian Candidate.
Some are calling for the arrest of the major role players in the economic collapse.

And on...
posted by Chuffy at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


How does Obama gain politically from leaks about Stuxnet? Haven't they been more damaging to his popularity than helpful? And isn't it super-damaging for our relationship with Iran and won't it probably spur them to do something malicious towards Israel or towards us?

Or am I missing some aspect of 13-dimensional chess, where a seemingly-rational person would see those outcomes as good things?
posted by muddgirl at 9:10 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this what he meant when he pledged to run the most transparent administration in US history?
posted by COD at 9:12 AM on June 8, 2012


Nice use of the passive tense. Who is calling for this, and why?


It's quite ironic. John McCain (R) and Saxby Chambliss (R) are pushing this because the idea is that news regarding the drone strikes will improve the administration's chances at electoral success.

Because drone strikes will obviously change the minds of Tea Partiers.
Because drone strike will obviously delight American left-wingers.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 9:15 AM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Umm... to the people who say this is coming from the current administration:

Isn't this exactly how a business, i.e. Apple, would run things?
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:16 AM on June 8, 2012


The release of the identity of Valerie Plame was, in all likelihood, directly sanctioned by the Vice President, so I'm not sure it qualifies as a "leak".
posted by demiurg


The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top down.
-Yes Minister
posted by workerant at 9:19 AM on June 8, 2012


I consider assault upon whistleblowers an giant step towards fascism, check out our tag for example.

Reason : Obama’s War on Whistle Blowers Could Send Investigative Journalism Back to the Stone Age

Salon : Obama’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers, Obama targets journalists.

posted by jeffburdges at 9:20 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Umm... to the people who say this is coming from the current administration:

Isn't this exactly how a business, i.e. Apple, would run things?


Of course; no organization wants whistleblowers or leakers. It's in the best interest of any business or government or group of people to control the flow of information about what they do.

As an aside, is anyone else bored with the "But Obama promised..." back and forth? All I hear is "But a politician promised..." over and over again.
posted by elsp at 9:22 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would strongly disagree that leak prosecutions under Obama are a sign of fascism.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


As an aside, is anyone else bored with the "But Obama promised..." back and forth? All I hear is "But a politician promised..." over and over again.

God yes. I'm sick of people expecting accountability. So old fashioned. *goes back to sitting quietly on the couch and waiting for direction from Rachael Maddow*
posted by eyeballkid at 9:24 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Obama is leaking things to help his election campaign, but of course, the Republican accusations have nothing to do with politics...
posted by tommyD at 9:36 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Obama told so many, many lies to get elected in '08.
posted by grounded at 9:37 AM on June 8, 2012


Obama told so many, many lies to get elected in '08.

So? Name one president that didn't.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:42 AM on June 8, 2012


So if I want an investigation into these leaks, does that make me anti-whistle blower? Cause I think I don't want an investigation, and it's congress who's grumbling (and trying to score political points) for calling on Obama for investigations. Or what am I missing here? Which is the pro-whistle-blower position the admin should be taking here but isn't? If they called for an investigation themselves, wouldn't that be an anti-whistle-blower moved.

Untangle this for me, please.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:42 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...moved?"
posted by saulgoodman at 9:43 AM on June 8, 2012


First we want transparency...then some object to transparency.
On the cyber attack recently: no real reason to conceal it: Iran announced and made available a link that claimed to fix the problem, and they noted that the attack from US and/ or Israel.
If Iran had fixed the malware, what need to stay hush hush about it. In fact, that malware had been at work for years before the Russian anti-virus company discovered it.
posted by Postroad at 9:45 AM on June 8, 2012


How does Obama gain politically from leaks about Stuxnet?

* Improves relations with Israel
* Makes the Obama administration look like an ally to Israel, gives insight into how he is actually collaborating with the government against Israeli enemies.
* In spite of the fuckups that let stuxnet get out (which, if you look at the NYT article about it, is blamed solely on Israeli engineers) the operation successfully destroyed something like 1000 centrifuges.
* Makes him look like he's tough/leading the way when it comes to the new frontier of cyber-warfare.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:46 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The people who were quiet re the Plame leaks are the ones who are screaming the loudest for action now.

The people who screamed loudest for action re the Plame leaks are the ones who are quiet now.

I blame Limbaugh, Olbermann, O'Reilly and Maddow for so many idiots willing to be quiet just because it is their side who may be in the wrong. The same goes for those who justify an act because the other guys do it, too.
posted by buggzzee23 at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obama told so many, many lies to get elected in '08.

He told a lot of uncomfortable truths as well that people shut their ears to, and then expressed surprise when he followed through. Attacking Al Qaeda in Pakistan, for example. In fact, saying back in 2007 (at the very beginning of the primary campaign) that he was prepared to do that was his first serious political challenge, and he stuck to that line despite accusations of irresponsibility and strategic ignorance from other candidates.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Saulgoodman - There's a difference between leaking and whistleblowing, right? Whistleblowing is exposing fraud/graft/corruption in the machinations of government (or elsewhere, depending.) Leaking is just giving over classified or otherwise private documents to the public domain. There's a righteous motive imputed in the word "Whistleblower" that is notoriously absent in the word "leak".

I'm not saying that there's a legal difference, this is just me spitballing. thoughts?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:48 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I blame Limbaugh, Olbermann, O'Reilly and Maddow for so many idiots willing to be quiet just because it is their side who may be in the wrong.

How does Maddow get thrown in with the rest of these people? Is it just because she's the most prominent, unabashedly liberal commentator on TV now that Olbermann is gone? I don't agree that she is complicit in or at all promulgates the attitude that you're talking about.
posted by kjh at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, in general, I would think the pro-whistle-blower position would be the one that supports letting leaks like this go unpunished/uninvestigated. People were discussing this issue in the context of whistleblower issues upthread, but as far as I can tell, the admin isn't punishing whistleblowers here by not more aggressively preventing leaks. From the outside, we have no way of knowing what the intent of the leakers was--many of the leaks have been politically embarrassing for the admin, so why is it a given that they're coordinating this show? And even if so, what's the difference? Punishing and aggressively preventing leaks makes it harder for whistleblowers to get information out to the public. How's the admin in any way guilty of whistleblower suppression in this case, as was kind of lazily implied upthread a couple of times?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2012


The Repubs accuse Obama; Obama denies; the NY Times reveals...in fact, THE FBI IS TRYING TO FIND OUT HOW THIS GOT LEAKED
posted by Postroad at 9:59 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


buggezzee23,

I'll admit that I'm less likely to criticize Obama, whereas I used to resolutely criticize both sides when they seemed to deserve it, irrespective of which side I favored.

I agree that folks like Limbaugh--and Limbaugh in particular--deserve(s) much of the blame.

But the majority of the blame lies with the GOP itself. They're irrational, delusional liars who will not only spin everything available into something anti-Obama and anti-liberal, but they'll just plain make things up with utter impunity. There is no such thing as a legitimate Democratic president in their eyes. They are a dangerous force in the world.

Despite the fact that I can't agree with everything Obama has done, I'm not going to help elect the disastrous party because the other available party is suboptimal. I hope I don't have to think tactically in this respect forever...but I don't see any reasonable alternative right now. In private, among friends, I'll admit my concerns. But my God, man, look at the alternative.

Add in the fact that we're not really sure how much of this really is intentional by the administration (despite repeated UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!S by Glenn Greenwald, the world's only principled human being )... and...hell, I don't know.

But I often feel like I'm at Bastogne or something. Am I happy about, say, racial attitudes and policies in the U.S.? No, I am not. Do I think it's a good time to complain about it, with the Wehrmacht bearing down on us? Not really.

Ok, Godwin's law....whatever...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:11 AM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Notice he doesn't say the suggestion is false.

Bernard: That's another of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.
posted by DreamerFi at 10:12 AM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


People who don't like Obama (notably furiousxgeorge) don't like Obama, film at 11.
posted by msalt at 10:14 AM on June 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Isn't there a difference, even a legally definable difference, between leaking and whistle-blowing?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:22 AM on June 8, 2012


Sure. Scooter Libby, Cheney, et. al. leaked Valerie Plame's name. No whistleblowing involved by any definition.

Every administration in history has leaked. It's only whistleblowing if you're revealing some bad behavior that has remained secret, which means that almost by definition, top officials are unable to leak unless they're implicating someone higher than themselves in bad behavior, or revealing some actions they opposed but were unable to stop. Also, whistleblowers usually go public; leakers remain hidden.
posted by msalt at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, this will be the Republican fishing expedition of this presidency then? I wonder what random thing it will end up on - I'm guessing not blowjobs again.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on June 8, 2012


How does Maddow get thrown in with the rest of these people? Is it just because she's the most prominent, unabashedly liberal commentator on TV now that Olbermann is gone? I don't agree that she is complicit in or at all promulgates the attitude that you're talking about.

Because the MSNBC crowd was quite vociferous in its attacks on Bush when he was eroding our civil liberties. But when Obama does the same thing they are largely silent. Al Sharpton has a personal policy that he will never criticize Obama on-air for anything he ever does. It is hypocritical and both sides do it.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:33 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't there a difference, even a legally definable difference, between leaking and whistle-blowing?

Whistleblowing is to expose wrong-doing that would otherwise be concealed.
posted by unSane at 10:52 AM on June 8, 2012


The MSNBC crowd doesn't attack Obama? Well, perhaps some of the talking heads, sure. But then you have people like Dylan Ratigan who, while not necessarily pointing out the civil liberties issues, certainly is attacking corporate power. And clearly just because the Talking Heads aren't pointing it out, doesn't mean that some of us who may watched MSNBC don't. I mean, witness some of us here on the blue (and then the others on the blue who will, of course, do the defense of Obama/Democrats and blame us for complaining about said abuses)... I have a feeling that both those who defend and attack Obama here are more likely to watch MSNBC than, say, FOX. Which is both a testament and a weakness to our side (and I'm not trying to do the "hurf durf - we're all so smart and sophisticated unlike those sheeple at FOX" which is one thing I absolutely hate about the current left-wing self-congratulatory rhetoric).
posted by symbioid at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2012


Because the MSNBC crowd was quite vociferous in its attacks on Bush when he was eroding our civil liberties. But when Obama does the same thing they are largely silent. Al Sharpton has a personal policy that he will never criticize Obama on-air for anything he ever does. It is hypocritical and both sides do it.

Look, I don't want to white-knight Maddow here, but this kind of generalization rubs me the wrong way. I don't watch a lot of news programs so I'm not sure what "the MSNBC crowd" does en banc but unless those criticisms apply specifically to Maddow I don't think it's fair to make a point of dropping her name just because she's associated with a network whose coverage you're generally dissatisfied with. Similarly, if Al Sharpton has a "personal policy" that you consider hypocritical, perhaps it would be best to criticize Sharpton himself rather than using Maddow as a proxy under the guise of them being the same or working for the same organization. (I presume that you mentioned him because he works as a commentator for MSNBC or some such?) Personally, I try to find the time to watch Maddow's program specifically because I find her generally unafraid to criticize her own "side" when she finds their actions or policies deficient. But, you know, she only has an hour show and I don't expect her to cover everything going on in the world, only what she herself finds interesting and worthy of comment. As an example, I can remember her devoting plenty of time to criticizing the Obama administration's position on gay rights--specifically DADT--prior to Obama's, ahem, "evolution."

Anyway, going back to buggzzee23's comment, I'm not sure he doesn't have cause and effect reversed a little bit. Limbaugh, for example, may work to reinforce biases in his audience, but that bias already exists. I know we laugh and roll our eyes at his assertions that he's "just an entertainer," but he is to the extent that he gives his audience what they want. Limbaugh listeners didn't want to hear any criticisms of Bush during his presidency, and they're not going to stand to listen to any praise for Obama today. Similarly, I'm willing to admit that I enjoyed watching Olbermann for his overblown, righteous anger during the Bush years; I was entertained by it. That was the value I got from his program. If I was informed at all or learned anything while watching his program, it was a bonus, but it wasn't why I tuned in. In contrast, I almost always come away from Maddow's program feeling like I learned something interesting, and hardly ever with that visceral feeling of "well, that felt good."

All this is far beside the point of the post, for which I apologize, and will simply say that I agree strongly with the sentiment that leaking classified information for any reason, including political gain, is unacceptable.
posted by kjh at 11:07 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


People who don't like Obama (notably furiousxgeorge) don't like Obama, film at 11.

I'm actually heavily leaning towards voting Obama at the moment since he did exactly what I was calling for on gay marriage which was one of my major disagreements. But enjoy your, "People who defend everything Obama does no matter what defend everything Obama does no matter what and personally attack anyone who questions him" thing.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:24 AM on June 8, 2012


But enjoy your, "People who defend everything Obama does no matter what defend everything Obama does no matter what and personally attack anyone who questions him" thing.

Ahh... good ole underlying xenophobic rants to oust people who hate on people who let underlying xenophobia issues lead them in their irrational rants.

tc;dr: Don't belittle people who call out xenophobic bullshit for being xenophobic bullshit.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2012


You should have made it clear in the FPP that this was a partisan call for investigation rather than one undertaken by an entire committee or a neutral figure like an inspector-general. If you're going to quote the open paragraph of a news article, then it should be italicized to indicate that it's a quotation. I'm not against an FPP about it, but it should be made clear that the calls are coming from GOP members who are probably seeking a political advantage.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:43 AM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


muddgirl: "Iran"

The claim is that many of the leaks were done to make Obama look tougher than he is viewed as. His apologies for some of America's misdeeds in the past really irked some people. In general terms he seen as soft despite Biden's claim that Obama has a Big Stick.

Not sure how he is attacked with claims of sending troops into wars without congressional approval while also being labeled a dove but some do.

So the bit about the virus and Obama personally shuffling through cards and choosing a victim to be executed by drones is alleged to be leaked to make Obama more of a bad-ass than a wimp.
posted by 2manyusernames at 11:45 AM on June 8, 2012


Ahh... good ole underlying xenophobic rants to oust people who hate on people who let underlying xenophobia issues lead them in their irrational rants.

Err, what?

You should have made it clear in the FPP that this was a partisan call for investigation rather than one undertaken by an entire committee or a neutral figure like an inspector-general.

As linked above, this matter is under investigation by the FBI. I missed that and should have included it in the link. However, my outlining of the situation was not particularly out of step with any of the headlines I'm seeing elsewhere. If it is your belief that the calls for investigation are stricly politically motivated, that is fine, but one could just as well assume the defense from Democrats is the same. As a neutral observer, I can't make that decision in an FPP and pointing out that both sides are partisan in every political FPP would get pretty old.

As a commentator, I do agree with you however that this breaks down along partisan lines.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:52 AM on June 8, 2012


Ahead of September Trial, Bradley Manning Seeks Withheld Gov’t Evidence and Dismissal of 10 Charges
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is not a leak if it is done by the executive branch. That's an authorized disclosure.


The difference is simple. Bradley manning wasn't elected President. Obama was. Obama has the legal and moral right to disclose what he sees fit. Manning has neither.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2012


But I'm sure President Romney won't leak anything, ever. And I'm sure these "calls" for an investigation aren't what they seem to be--a move by those who support Romney to put Romney into office. No it couldn't be.

But for those who desperately want Romney to win, it's a wonderful thing and they will trumpet this from the hills, because it will help the Republicans get into office.

Up is down when it's okay for Cheney to leak unsourced, stovepiped intelligence to Judith Miller, who would put it in the NYT, and then have Cheney point to that leak the next day on Meet the Press as meaning Saddam had WMD, but factual info about real things is ok.

Hope you get whatever world you people are wishing for.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:12 PM on June 8, 2012


As an aside, is anyone else bored with the "But Obama promised..." back and forth? All I hear is "But a politician promised..." over and over again.

God yes. I'm sick of people expecting accountability. So old fashioned. *goes back to sitting quietly on the couch and waiting for direction from Rachael Maddow*


The one thing I've noticed about the things people are mad at him for promising and not doing is that he invariably never made such a promise. I've seen people here say they're done with him because he promised single-payer and to withdraw from Afghanistan. Of course he promised the opposite.

Even with medical marijuana, he was opposed to mom and pop stores and said he'd prosecute where they were breaking other laws, i.e. trafficking, not just dispensing.

But hey, it's only facts and reality here.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:19 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obama told so many, many lies to get elected in '08

Name one.

But you first have to cite to the actual lie. No pretending he said he'd pull out of Afghanistan, that he didn't say in the midst of a presidential debate that he'd send special forces into Pakistan to kill bin Laden, that he promised single-payer, or that he never said that he wanted to see medical marijuana dispensed by doctors and not mom and pop shops or ignoring how he was hamstrung by his own party on Gitmo when it turned out that a good 75% of the electorate opposed him.

Seriously, the ability of some people to project a wish list never promised on to this guy is amazing.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:28 PM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


How the Obama administration is making the US media its mouthpiece: Spoonfed national security scoops based on anonymous official leaks – did we learn nothing from Judith Miller's WMD reporting?
posted by homunculus at 1:47 PM on June 8, 2012


But for those who desperately want Romney to win, it's a wonderful thing and they will trumpet this from the hills, because it will help the Republicans get into office.

Wow, I didn't know the New York Times wanted that.

It is not a leak if it is done by the executive branch.

Up is down when it's okay for Cheney to leak unsourced, stovepiped intelligence to Judith Miller


Was that a leak or not?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:56 PM on June 8, 2012


But you first have to cite to the actual lie. No pretending he said he'd pull out of Afghanistan, that he didn't say in the midst of a presidential debate that he'd send special forces into Pakistan to kill bin Laden, that he promised single-payer, or that he never said that he wanted to see medical marijuana dispensed by doctors and not mom and pop shops or ignoring how he was hamstrung by his own party on Gitmo when it turned out that a good 75% of the electorate opposed him.

Or we could just talk about the subject of this story instead of debating the entirety of the Obama presidency and campaign again...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:58 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is it e all know so much about this but the FBI is called in to investigate? Maybe they will read these comments and that will take care of that.
posted by Postroad at 1:59 PM on June 8, 2012 [4 favorites]



Or we could just talk about the subject of this story instead of debating the entirety of the Obama presidency and campaign again...


If you don't think this is a story about the Presidential campaign, you don't know anything about politics. Its a transparent attempt to get the topic off National Security, where 83% of the populace in the latest Gallup poll supports the President. The purpose of these "calls" (from John McCain), is to try and push away a narrative they don't like.

This is 100% about the Presidential campaign. Let's get real, please. Your disengenous headline in the passive voice avoids the FACTS which are that it is indisputably the GOP who is pushing this angle.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:39 PM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it is your point of view that this story is a political attack created to help elect Romney, that seems entirely on topic.

However, the topic of medical marijuana has a slightly less tenuous connection.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:52 PM on June 8, 2012


*more tenuous.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:52 PM on June 8, 2012


The administration is, in fact, going to investigate. WaPo article here.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:28 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Ironmouth, furiousxgeorge, you are both doing That Thing again. Please do not dig in and make this entire thread once again about y'all's chronic disagreement. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:53 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


How the Obama administration is making the US media its mouthpiece

So it's now official that FoxNews is not 'US media'? I mean, it never WAS journalism...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:21 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just arrived at the thread so I don't know if this has been said, but if Obama's reelection team were really clever, they could reverse this again:

Obama: "We respect the rights of the media to access to information to produce stories to fill the twenty-four hour news cycle, but these leaks, which profit those who trade in partisan rancor, pose significant threats to America's national security. These unauthorized leaks expose significant details of ongoing, high-level, military operations against primary terrorist targets. Because of the time-sensitive nature of these continuing operations, information must be strictly controlled until the missions have been successfully completed with the destruction or capture of the terrorist target. Now, I am not willing to play politics when it comes to the safety of my fellow Americans, their families, their homes. Others are willing to engineer the politically motivated release of top secret information and then profit from it in the polls."

Etc etc.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:07 PM on June 8, 2012


You should have made it clear in the FPP that this was a partisan call for investigation rather than one undertaken by an entire committee or a neutral figure like an inspector-general.

How about the Attorney General?

Eric Holder assigned two USA's to investigate the leaks.

“Today, I assigned U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein to lead criminal investigations into recent instances of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information.


...Holder said the investigations will be conducted separately from the probes launched in recent days by the FBI into the possible disclosure of classified information to reporters.
posted by snaparapans at 9:57 PM on June 8, 2012


Muddgirl asked: How does Obama gain politically from leaks about Stuxnet?

The story about Stuxnet was already out there, and most people were cool with it. This lets Obama take credit for it. In fact Joe Biden apparently said that the USA (i.e., Obama) did the cool bits and they brought the Israelis in, but the Israelis Did Something that broke Stuxnet and let everybody know about it. This is very clearly a clumsy Bidenesque attempt to shape Stuxnet's PR, because it is generally a really bad idea to talk about your covert partners or to discuss operational details like this.

One of the continual Republican talking points against Obama has been that he's anti-Israel. This story positions him as having worked hard to help Israel, but in a subtle and sophisticated way that people haven't really appreciated. In fact, this narrative says that he's a better friend to the Israelis than the Israelis themselves are - they're pushing for a war, he's working in the background to maintain peace while preventing the development of nuclear weapons. This implies that we should assume that his actions are ultimately in Israel's best interests, even when they're ostensibly against them. Win-win.

Another story has been that he's been a failure at foreign policy and has let Iran go nuclear (amongst other things). This story shows him masterfully controlling the situation by slowing Iran's nuclear development program in order to give sanctions time to work.

Finally, any story which shows the President succeeding is positive for the President. It forces his opponents to enter into hypotheticals about their ability to do things better. This is a really bad position for them. They'd rather point to Obama's failures or his lack of action.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:35 AM on June 9, 2012


It seems strange that Eric Holder opened a separate investigation of this after the FBI already started one, because it's hard to know where investigations like this lead. What if a top administration official is behind it?

And then I read a report recently that Holder and David Axelrod nearly came to blows and had to be separated in an argument over political interference. And it occurred to me that Holder might know exactly where this investigation leads.
posted by msalt at 8:18 AM on June 9, 2012


Holder is a personal chum of Obama's and their wives are friends. I think it is vanishingly unlikely that he would have launched this probe if O hadn't made it clear to him personally that the trail didn't lead to the White House, and that includes Axelrod.
posted by unSane at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2012


msalt: And then I read a report recently that Holder and David Axelrod nearly came to blows and had to be separated

You may have read this recently but the event is retold in a book about something that happened years ago.

And, as unSane pointed out, Holder is not about to launch anything without Obama's direction, or OK.

This is Obama's way of saying: my house is clean in order to head off the GOP's political maneuver regarding talk of a special council.
posted by snaparapans at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2012


I'm as jaded as the next guy, but such a cynical move would be a very dangerous game. If anyone could document the slightest hint of pressure from the White House to limit the scope of the investigation, or cool off some investigation aide who's getting into their job a bit too enthusiastically, the press would blow it up like a new Watergate.

You'd think they would have learned from Clinton, you don't launch investigations to assuage some short term political kerfuffle, because they grow into much bigger things.
posted by msalt at 9:28 AM on June 9, 2012


If anyone could document the slightest hint of pressure from the White House to limit the scope of the investigation..

From Jack Goldstein's blog:
According to the New York Times, DOJ was silent on the subject matter of the investigations because revealing their subject matter “would implicitly confirm that certain reports contained accurate classified information.However, the Wall Street Journal reports that the two relevant FBI leak investigations concern (1) “leaks about the cyberattack program” and (2) “leaks about a double agent who infiltrated al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.”

Oh, and then there is the messy problem about the leaks regarding drone attacks..
posted by snaparapans at 9:38 AM on June 9, 2012


I'm confused. Are you saying that's a sign of pressure from the White House to limit the investigation? In your quote, I see them limiting public announcements about the investigation, which is part of any good investigation, but not limiting the investigation itself.
posted by msalt at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2012


Well I am sure that the WH wants the investigation limited to the two subjects leaked to the WSJ... not too much irony there.. lol.

Because if the scope of the investigation is unlimited, WH will have egg on its face big time, particularly because of the absurd statement by Obama:

The notion that the White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office . . . . We are dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people — our families or our military or our allies — and so we don’t play with that.

There is no way the AG is going on an unlimited investigation. A special council will have to be appointed by congress to spend the billion it would take to undertake an unlimited investigation.
posted by snaparapans at 10:29 AM on June 9, 2012


For the record, the NYT says its story was based on months of careful research, not handed to it by anyone in or out of the administration.
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2012


They're not investigating the drone leaks, which are the most shameless examples of information about a secret program which is repeatedly and consistently leaked to the press. Here's a program that anonymous officials consistently brag about to journalists, while Carney refuses to acknowledge its existence and the Obama administration demands lawsuits regarding it dismissed from court on the basis that it is too secret to discuss.
posted by mek at 12:17 PM on June 9, 2012


unSane: "Holder is a personal chum of Obama's and their wives are friends. I think it is vanishingly unlikely that he would have launched this probe if O hadn't made it clear to him personally that the trail didn't lead to the White House, and that includes Axelrod."

Or Holder made it clear to Obama that the trail would not lead to the White House.
posted by 2manyusernames at 6:05 AM on June 10, 2012


I'm not entirely credulous about the NYT's claim that this story was not handed to them, but developed over months of diligent reporting. But I'm not sure why everyone here is so quick to dismiss it either.

Certainly drone strikes have been a major news story for years. Why are you so sure reporters didn't ferret out the details themselves?
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on June 10, 2012


msalt: Why are you so sure reporters didn't ferret out the details themselves?

Why would they bother when the Obama administration give them scoops on a sliver platter.

Glen Greenwald has been writing about the role of anonymous aides (sources) selectively leaking flattering information on subjects that are so secret that even the courts cannot have access to. Oh, and Bush was a master, but Obama appears to have brought the secrecy game to new heights.

(1) at the very same time that they wage an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, they themselves continuously leak national security secrets exclusively designed to glorify Obama purely for political gain; and (2) at the very same time they insist to federal courts that these programs are too secret even to confirm or deny their existence (thereby shielding them from judicial review or basic disclosure), they run around publicly boasting about their actions. Just over the past month alone, they have done precisely this by leaking key details about Obama’s commanding role in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, drone attacks that have killed allegedly key Al Qaeda figures, sophisticated cyber-attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, and the selection of targets for Obama “kill list”: all programs that are classified and which the White House has insisted cannot be subjected to judicial review or any form of public scrutiny.
posted by snaparapans at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: "This is very clearly a clumsy Bidenesque attempt to shape Stuxnet's PR, "

Clumsy. There's that word again, applied like a cliche magnet to Biden.

Biden says the things that the Administration wants said, but aren't officious enough to look good coming out of the the POTUS' mouth. And the result is the electorate hearing that Obama gave the Iranians what-for on their nuclear plans.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:11 PM on June 10, 2012


snaparapans: "There is no way the AG is going on an unlimited investigation. A special council will have to be appointed by congress to spend the billion it would take to undertake an unlimited investigation."

After the ungodly, endless, and extravagant spectacle that was the Starr-led investigation of real-estate shenanigans suspicious suicides an extramarital blowjob, I don't think an unlimited investigation will ever be permitted by Congress again.

The end result may have held pay dirt for the Republicans, but the process itself carries a bad memory.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:18 PM on June 10, 2012


I think you're flattering the current batch of Republicans there.
posted by Artw at 10:44 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


me: Why are you so sure reporters didn't ferret out the details themselves?
snaprapans: Why would they bother when the Obama administration give them scoops on a sliver platter?

But that's just it. What's your evidence that the Obama administration is giving anyone scoops? John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Glenn Greenwald throw out that charge without any proof, but all 3 are unreliable people openly hostile to Obama.
posted by msalt at 1:47 AM on June 11, 2012


When reporters list their sources as unnamed administration officials that means that the respective administration is the source. Why unnamed you may ask? Because the information is top secret and the deal goes something like this:

I will give you scoops, which will increase your readership, as long as you print what we want.

Those "leaks" are not prosecuted, nor are questions asked about who leaked.

The unnamed administration officials who spill the beans, that the government does not want disclosed, like the Illegal Wiretapping Story of 2004, by James Risen are targets of prosecution.
In fact the Bush Administration managed to get the NYT to suppress the Risen story for a year because it revealed sensitive State Secrets (about an illegal program), shows just how low the MSM has sunk. The story would have been inconvenient as it would have raised questions about Bush right before his 2004 re-election. What is the press for, if not to be a watchdog about government abuses, illegal activities and unconstitutional behavior? Should the press be a lapdog for the government because of the WOT?

Glen Greemwald is a journalist. To compare him to Lindsay Graham, and John McCain and say he is openly hostile to Obama is absurd. He is a JOURNALIST; it is their job to be openly hostile to government actions that are illegal I guarantee you that Greenwald praises Obama when he does a good job. Perhaps you are convinced that journalists like Judith Miller, should be lapdogs, love the government and print everything they say.

THe case of Risen v Sanger is a good one. Risen's illegal wiretapping story was published by the NYT in 2005, a year after it was written. The NYT eventually realized that the story was going to be published in book form (State of War) so allowed the story to go to print so it would not be scooped by the book publication. Risen was subpoenaed by the Bush Administration in 2008 during the Jeffery Sterling case, but refused to testify citing first amendment grounds. The subpoena expired and Obama renewed it. He may be jailed by Obama because he is not willing to reveal his unnamed administration sources.

Sanger on the other hand, uses unnamed sources about the drone killings and no one in the Obama administration is demanding that he reveal his sources because it makes Obama look good, tough and a winner in the WOT. The drones program is so secret that it does not exist as far as the US government goes. It is illegal to even mention it, but whenever it gets mentioned in a way the government likes, it is ok, but when secret kill lists come out... well that needs to be investigated.

Are you starting to get the picture now?

Regarding the wiretapping story this little blurb appeared with the 2005 printing:

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

WTF, is what you should be saying, not good on the NYT for holding back.

The only reason it was printed was Risen was going to publish his book. Certainly the fact that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed was no different in 2004 than it was a year later in 2005.

The Times made a business decision. It was abhorrent that the Paper of Record, the great NYT, played lapdog to BushCo in 2004, just as it played lapdog to BushCo in the run up to the Iraq war when it printed Judith Miller and Michael Gordon's stories about Sadaam Hussien's WMDs; with scoops all supplied by unnamed administration officials.
posted by snaparapans at 7:06 AM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, you have no evidence that this is a deliberate leak to curry favor, and neither does Greenwald or McCain.

Obviously Sanger has inside information, but he could have gotten it from a lot of places. In real life, top administration officials have their own personal agendas and feuds. People leak to undercut rivals, promote a strategy they favor, get revenge, correct what they see as misunderstandings by the public, hurt their boss, distract from more damaging stories, ruin a rival's pet program, etc. There are probably several sources -- Sanger wrote a book -- with different motives, some military, some administration.

You are leaping to the one motivation that happens to be a Republican talking point. And you don't have a shred of evidence to justify that.
posted by msalt at 8:19 AM on June 11, 2012


OOOOKay... I find it amazing that you would want to be an apologist for any President D or R, and want to defend a double standard where the government gets to decide, based solely on politics, what is protected speech, and what is not protected speech, in our press.

Lapdog journalism is not investigative journalism, it is stenographic work. Why do you think James Risen under fire from our government (both BushCo and Obama), and that David Sanger is not under any investigation? Both journalists list unnamed administration sources, no? The distinction between the two is that Sanger writes what the administration wants him to, while Risen, did not write what the administration wanted him to. Risen was critical, Sanger is sanctimonious.

Perhaps, to give you the benefit of the doubt, you do not understand what is at stake here. Demanding that investigative journalism is rigorous, and that journalists are protected by the constitution and free from government censorship, is most definitely not a Republican talking point, no matter how you want to frame it.

And again, you cannot compare McCain and Greenwald... that is really quite insane. McCain is a politician and Greenwald is a journalist. It almost sounds like you are gung ho when it comes to investigating GOP crime, but believe that any Pol with a D after their name is off limits.

I would understand that line of thinking if you were a politician, or working in Obama's press office, because then you would be doing your job, but somehow I doubt that is the case.
posted by snaparapans at 8:51 AM on June 11, 2012


Again, you have no evidence that this is a deliberate leak to curry favor, and neither does Greenwald or McCain.

I think it's quite possible the New York Times is trying to help the Obama Administration to appear "tough," independent of the Administration's own efforts. Kind of like a journalistic Super PAC.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:56 AM on June 11, 2012


I think it's quite possible the New York Times is trying to help the Obama Administration to appear "tough," independent of the Administration's own efforts. Kind of like a journalistic Super PAC.

and the crediting the tag line unnamed administrative source is just for show?

The NYT is pretty bad, but I do not think that they would stoop that low... besides there is no need for them to do it. Elizabeth Bumiller routinely wrote BushCo propaganda. Do you think that the NYT was also printing that as as Super PAC to support Bush.. certainly printing propaganda as news from any given administration seems to be par for the course for the NYT, mostly.

Of course their editorial department is quite separate from their journalism, mostly...
posted by snaparapans at 9:28 AM on June 11, 2012


snaparapans: As much as I admire your palindromic login, your insults and condescension are uncalled for and you still don't have a shred of evidence that this was a deliberate tactical leak. You're just repeating partisan attacks on Obama (and Sanger) straight out of Republican talking points (literally).

One of the big ironies here is that the very fact that Obama is NOT prosecuting Sanger for this story is used as evidence that the story was planted by the Administration. Yet you go on about how crucial investigative journalism is, how it needs to be protected from government, etc.

Occam's Razor - maybe the drone story is not being prosecuted because bomb attacks from the air are never really secret. I've always laughed at people talking about Nixon's "secret" bombing of Cambodia (with 2,400 tons of bombs from 60 bombers) -- I'm pretty sure the Cambodians found out. Even pre-Internet. Every time there's a "presumed drone attack" in Pakistan or Yemen it's in the newspaper, so there's not much secret to keep.
posted by msalt at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2012


Obama told so many, many lies to get elected in '08.
posted by grounded


Details?

Obama did quite a bit of what he said he'd do...
posted by Chuffy at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2012


Sorry, msalt, I did not mean to be condescending, or insulting. I must have of overreacted to your lumping McCain and Greenwald together. McCain is a hypocrite as are all Politicians, Greenwald is certainly not a hypocrite as he will call out any administration D or R, if they appear to be talking out of both sides of their mouths, while possibly being involved with unconstitutional or illegal behavior.

We need more people like Greenwald to keep our pols honest and criticize our press. We certainly do not need any more people like McCain who will say anything to score political points even if it contradicts what he said last week, IOW: IOKIYAR

Also, I may have overreacted because the problem here, despite any GOP talking points, seems crucial and obvious to me. The practice of leaking for political gain is nothing new, it is called Politics. Perhaps what is so striking about Obama's version is that his talk and walk are so out of step. BushCo basically said we lie, and you write it down, all the time smirking with impunity.. Obama talks about transparency and open government while at the same time has the most secret government ever.

The blatant hypocrisy, by Obama sets up a big target for his political foes. He brags about taking out terrorists with drones while at the same time his administration claims that the drone program does not exist because it is too secret for anyone to know about. It cannot be investigated or questioned because we are at war, which seemed to me to be the big excuse for tremendous bad faith and illegal activity from all the prior GOP administrations.

Now all of a sudden because the Democrats are involved, we should roll over and say, " We are at war. Obama is fighting for our freedoms (while taking them away), so we must fight to help him keep his secrets, even if they are illegal, unconstitutional, immoral and just plain wrong."

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Greenwald and other journalists who are seeking to cast sunlight on our politicians and how information gets disseminated to the public are crucial to balance the monolithic power of government, be it D or R.
posted by snaparapans at 10:28 AM on June 11, 2012


Chuffy: Politicians, by their very nature, are liars; ALL OF THEM. It is not possible for any politician to keep the promises he or she makes on the campaign trail. Not sure why you would want to compare lists of promises to promises fulfilled. You are supposed to forget, not remember when it comes to politicians promises.
posted by snaparapans at 10:33 AM on June 11, 2012


As for Glenn Greenwald, he is not a journalist. He's an attorney, columnist, pundit and media personality. Now, some columnists have broken big stories and led very important crusades (Jack Anderson, or my favorite Mike Royko). Others include Patrick Buchanan and Geraldo Rivera and William Safire and Ann Coulter and those like NOM's Maggie Gallagher who have been caught taking payments from interested parties.

Columnists write for entertainment, which is clear when Greenwald says e.g. that Obama has "a penchant for civilian slaughter." That kind of thing is fun if you agree with him, but in my opinion it's not fundamentally different than what a politician does, except that it's easier to shut a politican up (by defeating him or her in an election.)
posted by msalt at 11:56 AM on June 11, 2012


wow, is all I can say. Sounds like you do not like investigative journalists who also speak their mind about the kiliing of innocent civilians. I think that we will see more investigative journalism coming from bloggers who wear several hats.

And, I understand that you do not think someone can be an investigative journalist and also cuttingly criticize standing US presidents, but other's do not agree with you.

He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and is the winner of the 2010 Online Journalism Association Award for his investigative work on the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning.

I understand that you are angry that Greenberg (or anyone?) would harshly criticize Obama, but presenting a quote out of context, and editing it to make your argument stronger, is poor, imo.

The context of the quote from a January 2012 FP article Grading Obama's Foreign Policy. Nine experts on foreign policy were asked their opinion as to how Obama was doing. Glenn Greelwald opines that our standing in the Muslim world has not improved primarily because of the killing of civilians which Obama as CIC is responsible for. Drones are notorious for causing civilian deaths. Using the word penchant drips with biting irony, as Obama has continually shown deep remorse for these inadvertent killings, but they do not appear to be abating.

here is context of the quote and the full quote:

When it comes to pursuit of his foreign-policy aims, he has proven himself a far shrewder and more efficient technocratic manager than his predecessor...

But the goals to which that shrewdness has been applied have been extremely ill-advised. A core promise of the Obama presidency -- to improve America's standing in the world -- has been thwarted, as the nation is now viewed as unfavorably in the Muslim world, if not more so, as it was during the Bush years. Obama's steadfast support for Arab dictators, his ongoing subservience to the Israeli government, and his penchant for violence, aggression, and civilian slaughter in that region are the culprits.


Suport for Greenwald's assertion:

According to secret diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks, Pakistan's Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani not only tacitly agreed to the drone flights, but in 2008 requested Americans to increase them.[10] However, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, "drone missiles cause collateral damage. A few militants are killed, but the majority of victims are innocent citizens."[11] The strikes are often linked to Anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and the growing questionability of the scope and extent of CIA activities in Pakistan.....

Based on extensive research, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that between 391 – 780 civilians were killed out of a total of between 1,658 and 2,597 and that 160 children are reported among the deaths. ....

Barbara Elias-Sanborn has also cautioned that, "as much of the literature on drones suggests, such killings usually harden militants' determination to fight, stalling any potential negotiations and settlement."[19]



posted by snaparapans at 1:02 PM on June 11, 2012


Scott Horton: Obama’s Intelligence Striptease
posted by homunculus at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


snaparapans -- you have a really bad habit of putting false words in my mouth, e.g.
I understand that you do not think someone can be an investigative journalist and also cuttingly criticize standing US presidents...
Sounds like you do not like investigative journalists who also speak their mind about the kiliing of innocent civilians....
I understand that you are angry that Greenberg (or anyone?) would harshly criticize Obama


That's bullshit. Stop it.
posted by msalt at 1:57 PM on June 11, 2012


You can explain Greenwald's context all you want but it doesn't change the hyperbole of him saying that Obama has a "penchant for civilian slaughter."
Really. He likes to slaughter civilians, yep, that's what Obama enjoys.

Greenwald is a columnist, an advocate and persuader like all lawyers. That's not reporting, it's advocacy, fun to read, often illuminating, but not reporting. In case you didn't know, columnists also receive journalism awards, including Pulitzers. Doesn't make them reporters.

If you want to discuss facts, the civilian death rate in drone attacks is a complicated, murky issue as the actual wikipedia page you cherry-pick from acknowledges. By consensus, the rate of civilians deaths has gone down dramatically under Obama, and the article spells out several reasons why (smaller missiles, more monitoring before attacks, attacking cars instead of houses, all in an attempt to reduce civilian deaths). None of these facts help Greenwald make his case, so he ignores them. Sanger is a reporter, so he doesn't do stuff like that. It does not make him a toady or lap-dog or administration mouthpiece.
posted by msalt at 2:17 PM on June 11, 2012


msalt: ok, hard to understand why anyone slightly right of center all the way to the left, would not laud Greenberg for the excellent work he has done. He is an equal opportunity critic.

Sorry for the speculation, but, for sure, I was not putting words in your mouth, just telling you what it sounds like to me. I will work on my delivery next time, as I think that this is really important stuff to talk about, and last thing I want is to shut down intelligent discussion about how the Obama administration handles whistleblowers, generates good leaks and punishes bad leaks.

OK... got it. You are really unhappy that Greenwald used biting irony to highlight Obama's hypocrisy. And you are really happy that Sanger does nothing to rock the boat, just reports the facts, wherever he gets them from.

Not much to discuss about this with you, I guess.
posted by snaparapans at 2:36 PM on June 11, 2012


By consensus, the rate of civilians deaths has gone down dramatically under Obama

Complete nonsense, even based on a reading of your own link. Sure the Obama administration's official position is that there have been no civilian casualties at all since May 2010 from the drone program. Of course they count all able-bodied males in the combat area as combatants, and "the combat area" is itself defined by the presence of drones. Your link shows the opposite of what you claim: there is no consensus on how many civilian deaths the drone program has caused, and estimates range from 0 (CIA) to 2000+ (CMC). One thing that is certain is that the drone program basically began in 2008, so comparing Obama to Bush in this particular area is meaningless. Bush didn't have a real drone program, only a few prototypes.
posted by mek at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2012


Chuffy: Politicians, by their very nature, are liars; ALL OF THEM. It is not possible for any politician to keep the promises he or she makes on the campaign trail. Not sure why you would want to compare lists of promises to promises fulfilled. You are supposed to forget, not remember when it comes to politicians promises.
posted by snaparapans at 10:33 AM on June 11


Well, if you call someone a liar, and don't provide any evidence, then I'm not going to listen, for one. I totally want to compare lists to see how a candidate does. If a candidate says they're going to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, for instance, I would think that you could say they were truthful if/when it happens.

I get your cynicism, but I also think your statement lacks credibility without reinforcing evidence. Obama did quite a bit of what he promised he'd do - so I don't see how you can say he's a liar. He may not have come through on everything, or in the way that people might've expected, but he delivered on a lot of the things he said he was going to do.
posted by Chuffy at 4:21 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chuffy: I get your cynicism...

It is not cynicism it is pragmatism. A politician has to convince many people who have a wide range of views that s/he holds the same views as they do. This is not possible, so they lie, just like the teevee commercials lie.

It is known as telling people what they want to hear in order to sell the product, which for politicians running for election, is themselves. To imagine that their promises are based on some deeply held principal is not sensible, to take everything they say as truth is foolish.

Which is why plotters have to hold politician's feet to the fire, and not be complacent that they will do the right thing. Otherwise they will do whatever is most expedient for them.
posted by snaparapans at 4:40 PM on June 11, 2012


Aljazeera's Listening Post : Blowing the whistle on Obama's America

via whistleblower.org : An In-Depth Look at the 'War on Intelligence Whistleblowers': Daily Whistleblower News
posted by jeffburdges at 4:47 PM on June 11, 2012


Which is why plotters....

damn auto-correct for spelling... It should read:

Which is why voters.... not plotters

Pretty funny to see my computer speller getting subversive.
posted by snaparapans at 4:57 PM on June 11, 2012


cyn·ic   [sin-ik]
noun
1.
a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.


pragmatic (præɡˈmætɪk)

— adj
1. advocating behaviour that is dictated more by practical consequences than by theory or dogma

Cynically pragmatic?
posted by Chuffy at 5:28 PM on June 11, 2012


lol.. well are actors lying too? I think that a leader, read politician, has to have charisma, and ambition. The combination of the two force a good pol into knowing what people want to hear and convincing them you will do their bidding.

It is an odd job, because on one hand the voters want to see a leader who has principles, yet they want to be represented. So the job description really calls for a good liar who is forced to do what s/he said because enough people are screaming. The smart and talented politician figures out who they need to appease in order to continue being the leader, and does their bidding or tries really hard. As for the complacent, the politician doesn't have to worry about carrying out their promises to them because they are already in the bag.

So I think it is a realistic view, and not cynical at all. FOr those who believe that politics is anything more, I think that they are foolish and susceptible to being seriously manipulated.
posted by snaparapans at 5:45 PM on June 11, 2012


OK... got it. You are really unhappy that Greenwald used biting irony to highlight Obama's hypocrisy. And you are really happy that Sanger does nothing to rock the boat, just reports the facts, wherever he gets them from. Not much to discuss about this with you, I guess.

Why don't you let me say what I think, and instead you can tell me what you think.

I'll repeat my question: why are you so convinced that the Obama administration fed a leak to Sanger? You haven't cited any evidence, just quoted 3 people (Greenwald, McCain and Lindsay Graham) who don't cite any evidence either. Greenwald's pretty good about showing evidence when he has it. It looks a lot like he doesn't have any.

I'd say it's mostly likely that Sanger has a half dozen or more sources for his book; good journalists do that. The sources probably each put their own spin on what they told him, and he did his best at sorting out the truth behind it. The fact that it might help Obama politically doesn't make it untrue.
posted by msalt at 9:22 PM on June 11, 2012


I'm also puzzled why everyone is so convinced that Sanger's story is positive for Obama. It contains the details about counting all fighting-age males hit by an attack as fighters, which is indefensible and why we're having this discussion in the first place.

I guarantee you Obama didn't want that publicized. In fact, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism -- the main anti-drone-war news source - is trumpeting Sanger's story as dirt on Obama. They say that Sanger's scoop is based on 36 different sources in the military and administration, to show how damning and solid it is.
posted by msalt at 6:46 AM on June 12, 2012


msalt: Sorry for rephrasing what I think you think... I can see why that may be annoying. That was not my intention. Thanks for the feedback I will refrain from that in the future.

It seems obvious to me that when Sanger says unnamed administrative sources it is a story that is leaked to make the President look good.

the Bureau of Investigative Journalism -- the main anti-drone-war news source - is trumpeting Sanger's story as dirt on Obama.

Maybe I did not read the article thoroughly but the story you linked to links to a NTY article by JO BECKER and SCOTT SHANE, not David Sanger. Scott Shane and Jo Becker has written critically of the Obama Administration's leaking to score political points and its prosecution of whistleblowers and people who leak information that is used to make Obama look bad. They are an entirely different type of journalist than David Sanger is.

Here is another article by Scott Shane, critical of Obama

This from Sanger's article about the Stuxnet virus:


At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room. [emphasis mine]...


This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day....

Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory...

“We discussed the irony, more than once,” one of his aides said. Another said that the administration was resistant to developing a “grand theory for a weapon whose possibilities they were still discovering.”

Lots of information from unnamed administration sources aka leaks.

I'm also puzzled why everyone is so convinced that Sanger's story is positive for Obama

Well not sure you mean Sanger's story, but I will address the leaks that were meant to bolster the president's image as a tough warmonger. White males 25 average age are the President's weakest demographic. This group is on average pro war, and not too keen on the legendary Muslim threat. Depicting Obama as killing as many muslims as possible is a positive for this demographic. They applaud the President for defining anyone who is in a combat zone as a combatant and fair target to kill. And the fact that the whole of Afghanistan is a combat zone, doesn't bother them a bit... ok a bit of an exaggeration there, but not by much.

Obama, despite popular liberal belief, was never anti war. He may have been against the Iraq war but as far as Afghanistan goes he laid out plans to attack our enemies there in many campaign speeches. And despite this, he won the election big time. GIven that the President does not about the whimpering, or screaming, (depending on your POV) anti war voters, who he mostly has in the bag anyway because he knows that they won't vote for Romney. The voter he cares more about is the 25 year old male demographic who feeds on war mongering, shoot em up, stuff. That is who these leaks that depict Obama as a tough guy are aimed at.
posted by snaparapans at 7:46 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're right, I mixed up Sanger's story and the other recent leaks about Obama. My bad.

I don't see a huge distinction between the Stuxnet story (which is Sanger's) and the drone story though. Both show Obama as aggressive on foreign policy but also making mistakes or questionable calls. The fact that Stuxnet escaped and went into the wild is a huge cockup.

Both are by NYT reporters and based on interviews over months and years with dozens (as it turns out) of Administration and military officials. Of course. Who else was there at those meetings? Every administration has this. People in Washington talk, to settle scores, feel important, etc. Doesn't mean it's a deliberate administration plan.

Your theory on political strategy lost me when you said that young men are Obama's weakest demographic. What? Obama is famous for riding the youth vote to the White House. Even if you were right though, it isn't leaks than can win over hawks, it's actions. Like killing Awlaki and Bin Laden. If that didn't persuade these voters, a story years later that Obama approved a computer virus is hardly going to change their minds.
posted by msalt at 9:04 AM on June 12, 2012


snaparapans: "It is not cynicism it is pragmatism."

I have never, ever met a cynic who didn't claim the same.

Being generically negative, and painting all situations with the same, broad tar-brush, is not pragmatism; it's defeatism.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:19 AM on June 12, 2012


IiAmBroom: nothing negative about it. It is how is has to be, how it is. Which is why voters should never be complacent because it gives the politician no reason to pander to you for your vote. Holding Obama's feet to the fire is the only way we will get 10% of what we want.
posted by snaparapans at 2:36 PM on June 12, 2012


The Daily Show: Newsleaks
posted by homunculus at 1:22 PM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


CIA Refuses to Confirm or Deny Drone Attacks Obama Brags About
posted by homunculus at 3:00 PM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ban on Arming Domestic Drones: Let’s Draw a Line in the Sand
posted by jeffburdges at 5:31 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It Couldn’t Happen Here, It Does Happen There
posted by homunculus at 9:36 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


How Drones Help Al Qaeda
posted by snaparapans at 9:51 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


White House, Citing Public’s Right to Know, Stonewalls on Yemen War
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


National "Do Not Kill" Registry

Disclaimer: Adding your name to the 'Do Not Kill' Registry does not guarantee that you will not be the target of a drone strike but only that an additional review process will be undertaken before you are labeled an enemy militant and added to the national kill list. For further information on the drone program and newly instated 'kill list' click here. You can contact the operators of the Do Not Kill Registry by e-mailing donotkillregistry@gmail.com.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:43 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


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